October 2014
  • Day1


    October 17, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Japan, the land of courteous people, delicious sushi and the lightning fast bullet trains.
    You would think this metropolis is all about its tall buildings and typical city life. There is more than just the hustle and bustle in Tokyo.

    For starters, I went to Ueno Park which is actually one of the famous parks for cherry blossom viewing(or as the Japanese call it, Hanami). However, no Hanami for me as I went during autumn. Still, a very nice park. Love the colours of the leaves. The fountain had some bloomers. Went to a traditional looking ramen shop by the corner and had the best ramen ever created (Picture below. It deserved to be given a slot)

    Tsukiji Market is a must go. Now, if you get there early enough, you can watch these dudes auction off fish in the inner market. Not just tiny boring fish, but imagine those huge tuna fishes! That is around 5am. I, however, treasure my sleep so I only visited the outer market at like 9am. Good enough for me as I wasn't planning on buying fish. Just wanted to savour some fresh sushi, which was awesome.

    And then there's Akihabara. The electric town. Come here if you want to buy cheap electronics or if you are into gadgets. Even if you don't plan on buying anything, you can always visit cafes here. If you are an anime fan, you might have heard of Gundam. Yes, you geeks, there is a Gundam cafe. If you are into cutesy maid cafes or a downright pervert who has a fetish for maid costumes, then Akihabara is where you belong. Food here to me is mediocre. I'd rather eat at Tsukiji market again.

    What's all the hype about Harajuku? The weird fashionistas of course. Sadly, I didn't see any. Maybe because I went on a weekday and they were in school at the time. Alot of shops here with funny styles of clothing though. So at least I still got to see mannequins dressed up silly.

    Stayed in Asakusa for abit. A hostel called Tokyo Hutte. Very hipster with a cafe downstairs. It was nearby Tokyo Skytree so I got to see it all lighted up at night.

    Getting around is easy using public transport. I used Japan Rail Pass, so I got to use most trains/subway unlimited times a day. They are always on time. You can plan your trip accordingly when you check train schedules using www.hyperdia.com.

    Even if you are not a fan of concrete jungles (like me), you should definitely explore Tokyo at least once. Totally worth it. Especially if you have small feet like me. Shoe shopping is a breeze. I would definitely come back.
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  • Day4


    October 20, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    I'm sure most of us have seen the Red Gate, but don't know where it is. It is here in Miyajima Island. It is officially known as the Itsukushima Shrine and appears floating on the water. When the tide is low, you can walk to it. This shrine is a World Heritage Site.

    Besides the gate, there are lots of deers here and they are very accustomed to human contact. Some of them greet you before you can greet them. Pet them. Take pictures with them. But choose your deer wisely. Some may be hostile.

    Apparently mandarin orange ice cream is a must try here. Its a Hiroshima thing. Or a Miyajima thing. I'm not really sure. Eiher way, you ain't going to find it in supermarkets. So just try it, unless you have an orange allergy.

    To get here, you need to get to Hiroshima. It was a day trip for me. I took the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo and returned that evening.

    Then take the train from Hiroshima to Miyajimaguchi station, and then the JR ferry from Miyajimaguchi to Miyajima island. You can use he JR pass for this.

    Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum if you have the time. It is also called the bomb museum as it conveys facts on that event.

    It was a brief visit for me but worthwhile.
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  • Day5


    October 21, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    If there was one word I could describe Kyoto with, I would go with "elegant". It is the home of the geisha after all. I'm sure you heard of Gion. Yes, this is where the Gion district lies.

    Maruyama Park had its autumn colours on at the time. That, together with its calm ponds with carp complete the atmosphere. Ah, serenity.

    Plenty of temples to see here. The architecture is divine. Landscaping is an art in the vicinity of the temples.

    The food here, is nothing short of exquisite. Beautifully arranged sashimi with a cup of warm sake. I couldn't ask for more. Well no, I can always eat more. I was lucky to pass by a stall on my way back that sold "Shiratama Dango". These are Japanese sweet rice dumplings on a stick smothered with brown sugar syrup (picture below). There was a long queue but it was worth the wait.

    Lastly, the Kyoto Tower. Its situated near the main train station so you will definitely see it even if you don't plan to.

    Kyoto, in my opinion, is the classy version of Tokyo. Not as crowded but very much alive.
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  • Day7


    October 23, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    If you need peace and quiet, come here. Feels like it cleanses your soul. I came here during autumn and let me tell you, its absolutely breathtaking. The different colours of the leaves and the serene waters of the lake with the 5 story pagoda in the distance. Simply magnificent!

    Nara is well known for its deers. You will find most of the in Nara Park, although at times you might find them wandering in town. In the park however, you can purchase deer crackers from vendors and feed the deer. These creatures are smart. They will ambush you the moment you walk to the vendor stall. "That one is getting food!", I'm sure that's what they're saying. Nothing to worry about though. They're just going to nudge you with their noses for abit.

    There is a legend here about deers being messengers of God which is why the town's folk are fine with deer trampling their lawns. Though I don't think they trample much as Japanese deers are as well mannered as their people.

    There are some temples here. A must see is Todaiji temple. It is one of Japan's most famous temples and a prominent landmark of Nara. Picture included below. You can also visit Kofukuji temple. It is right next to the 5 storey pagoda. Picture included below as well.

    Oh, and souvenir shopping here is relatively cheaper compared to the other places I've travelled in Japan. Go to Naramichi if you wish to get some keychains and fridge magnets.
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  • Day8


    October 24, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Renowned by its hot springs, Hakone is mountainous town that offers scenic views of Mt. Fuji, if you are lucky and there is no mist obstructing your vision that is. Sadly for me, I only had a day here and it wasn't a very clear one, so I didn't get to meet Fuji-san.

    I did however get to soak in an onsen. An outdoor onsen might I add. It was a chilly day and the warm water was so welcoming. When in Hakone, you have to experience onsen. Where else in the world are you ever going to soak yourself butt naked in a public bath with total strangers who totally don't acknowledge your presence. No awkward stares! Nothing! Its like you don't exist!

    What is an onsen you ask? It means hot spring in Japanese. However, this term is used for inns and bathing facilities built around natural hot springs.

    Take the Hakone ropeway and experience magnificient sights from up above. You can see Lake Ashinoko or Mt Fuji on a good day. My pictures don't do this place justice as they were taken in the evening after sunset. Nice autumn colours though.

    If you have the time, take a cruise in Lake Ashinoko. You can get some pretty good shots of Mt Fuji from here.

    I didn't get to experience Hakone properly on this trip. Maybe next time.
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